Nov 18, 2022 - News

LGB youth more likely to experience trauma, research shows

Photo illustration collage of an upset young person with a rainbow and shattered glass surrounding them.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth are far more likely to attempt suicide, plan a suicide attempt or have suicidal thoughts, according to new research from the University of Georgia.

  • The study shows these young people were also more likely to have experienced trauma like childhood sexual violence and dating violence.

Driving the news: The research shows that there appears to be a link between experiencing trauma like sexual violence or physical dating violence and suicidal ideation, but that link is stronger among LGB youth.

Of note: The study did not include transgender or nonbinary youth. A recent Trevor Project survey found that more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth queried reported seriously considering a suicide attempt in the last year.

Why it matters: The UGA research has implications for suicide prevention efforts among LGB youth. The report's authors say it means these efforts may need to incorporate violence prevention and intervention strategies as well.

  • That could include better education of school staff and faculty about the effects of violence on LGB youth.

By the numbers: The study uses data from nearly 15,000 respondents to a 2019 CDC survey. It shows that while nearly 15% of heterosexual youth reported suicidal ideation, nearly 38% of gay or lesbian youth and nearly 48% of bisexual youth did.

Threat level: The study’s lead author, Émilie Ellis, said in a statement the results are concerning and warned the study is also likely an underrepresentation of the number of suicidal ideation broadly because of the stigma associated with reporting it.


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